Jason, a youth pastor in Iowa, decided to go a weekend without speech — here is his story!

Day 1 — Random observations on my first day being silent. My administrative assistant goes beyond finishing my sentences. She knows what I’m thinking before I say it…or in this case, before I don’t say it. I am a finalist in the Mr. Short Term Memory contest. Example #1 – After my morning run, I stopped to chat with my neighbor lady as she was bringing her trash to the curb. We talked for a good 2-3 minutes. It didn’t even dawn on me that I had violated my no-speech rule until I had reached my house…unbelievable. Later that morning, I met someone in the hall at work. They said good morning. I returned the courteousness. This time, I realized immediately what I had done! By the time I got home, I thought I had this thing down, or so I thought. Later that night, the doorbell rang, and in our home, that’s the signal for our 10 lb Yorkie to go into Pitbull mode and bark uncontrollably. As I went to cover my mouth with my hand, it was too late. I had already yelled, “Chewie, be quiet!” Ugh.

Today is a Monday & Mondays are meeting days for me. The first meeting went swell, because my Admin. Assistant was in the room. ☺ My last meeting of the day went okay. We were having a serious discussion and I managed to write a few thoughts on my small dry-erase board. The drill was, I would write, and then show the others around the table. After a couple times of this, I noticed the expressions on a few faces. Have you ever seen someone trying to read something without his or her glasses on? That was the look. Rather than a contribution to the conversation, it felt more like an interruption. So, after that, I would write and have the guy next to me read what it said to the group. Still, I sat there a bit frustrated, simply because I wasn’t able to fully engage in the conversation. I was so limited. Writing a sentence with words underlined and an exclamation point at the end still tends to get lost as soon as the next person begins to talk. Grrr.

Helpless is the feeling some people live with who are never heard, even when they can talk. It’s hard to imagine.

Day 2 – My first trip to Target in silence with white-board in tow. Prior to approaching the nice lady at the check out, I had written a greeting and brief explanation of what I was doing, or not doing. Her reaction? Rather than speaking to me in a normal volume & tone, she whispered. Then, when I turned to leave, instead of saying good-bye or have a nice day, she pointed to where I had written, “have a nice day” on my white-board. I thought that was funny.

No unusual happenings at the office, although I forgot my board once and had to play charades with my administrative assistant. Two words – down load.

Tonight in band rehearsal, I felt sorry for our silent band director, Michelle. She gave a valiant effort of trying to lead without talking, but to no avail. We gave her permission to speak for just a few minutes. I was glad she took the liberty, otherwise, we’d all still be there!

I’ve noticed that not much talking goes on in my home when I’m around. I think by the time I get home, everyone has filled their quota of words for the day, or they are all introverted nerds with their noses buried in their books. I believe I help balance that equation. As an extrovert who isn’t talking, I feel alone. Is this the feeling others sense who are living a world where no one is listening? Or worse, have no voice?

Day 3  – Yes, I know. I’ve already been criticized for only going three days rather than the full 10. Last night at the conclusion of our youth service is when I permanently suspended my silence. I was immediately approached by one of our participating students, with whiteboard in hand. She had written, “you suck at this.” I’m pretty sure she has the spiritual gift of discouragement. For me, having no voice was just a horrible inconvenience. And when you live in a speaking world, it’s not just inconvenient for you, but for others as well. A co-worker told me after I broke my silence that it was driving HIM crazy. That got me thinking. What if a co-worker or family member was dealt an unfortunate & debilitating handicap that affects me? This three-day exercise revealed many things; one being how unwilling and/or unmovable people, myself included, can be in their set way of life. Prior to when the 10DW Speech was launched, a good friend made a point to tell me how ridiculous, unproductive and unrealistic this exercise would be. Yeah, maybe so, but if my limited, somewhat-insignificant actions can bring awareness to millions of others who are forced everyday of their lives in silence, then I don’t mind being the fool.

Our youth heard F.R.E.E. International representative Lowell Hochhalter speak last night about adolescent teens that are abducted and trafficked, and how F.R.E.E. is trying to rescue them. Before we dismissed, our students wrote an encouraging letter to a “girl on the street” proclaiming that her life is of value, that there is a God who loves her, and she can be set free from the slavery that she’s in. F.R.E.E. will travel to New Orleans, host sight for the 2013 Super Bowl, and hand these letters out to prostitutes working the streets. Can one letter make a difference? I’m crazy enough to believe it can. In God’s hand, all things are possible.

One final witty confession of failure. Remember, I’m Mr. Short-Term Memory. Case in point – I had just finished my morning run yesterday in front of our neighbor’s house, a common occurrence. I was met by the wonderful aroma of bacon. “Hmmm, the Kennedy’s (our neighbors) must be having breakfast!” I thought to myself. When I entered the back door, I discovered the bacon smell was coming from OUR kitchen. Without thinking, I exclaimed, “I COULD SMELL THAT 50 FEET AWAY!” Tamara, shocked & amazed that she heard me talking, said, “YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE TALKING!” “OH NO!” I said in horror. To which she replied, “Bacon made you talk!” I blame the bacon.

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Why are people going without speech? To be a voice for those who have had their voices stripped from them. 10 Days Without is currently trying to raise $10,000 for IJM over the next year. You can learn more and give by clicking here.

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